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Back to School: Hampshire Regional High

Computer science offerings to bolster math curriculum

  • Hampshire Regional High School algebra teacher Cinde Messer, far left, helps rising freshmen Kassie Quinlan, left, Kayla Jones and Nina Carmody, right, in a math academy refresher class on Monday, Aug. 14, in Westhampton. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional High School algebra teacher Cindy Messer, right, helps students in a math academy refresher class on Monday, August 14, 2017, in Westhampton. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional High School algebra teacher Cindy Messer, right, helps rising freshmen Kassie Quinlan, left, Kayla Jones and Nina Carmody in a math academy refresher class on Monday, August 14, 2017, in Westhampton. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional High School algebra teacher Cindy Messer, right, helps rising freshmen Kassie Quinlan, left, Kayla Jones and Nina Carmody in a math academy refresher class on Monday, August 14, 2017, in Westhampton. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional students break for a mid-morning snack during a math academy refresher class on Monday, August 14, 2017, in Westhampton. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Bulletin board in a Hampshire Regional High School room. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING



@kate_ashworth
Wednesday, August 23, 2017

WESTHAMPTON — Math teachers Cinde Messer and Louis Potorski at Hampshire Regional High School say they are regularly asked the question, “When will I use this in the real world?”

Now, thanks to new computer science courses being rolled out at the school this year, the teachers will be able to give students hands-on learning in the ways math is incorporated in computers and mobile devices.

The new courses include an introductory and overview of computer science in a class called Exploring Computer Science. A second, more advanced class called AP Computer Science Principles will allow students to create a mobile application, a process that uses math skills students have learned in previous classes.

While three courses in mathematics are required by the state to graduate, Hampshire Regional requires four. Principal Kristen Smidy said the computer science programs will expand math options for students, as will the hiring of an additional math teacher at the high school.

Messer, an algebra teacher, said with the variety of classes available, students have the option to take classes they are more interested in rather than be told what they need to take.

While the exploratory course is open to all high school students, the advanced placement course is open to juniors and seniors with a prerequisite of a B-plus in Algebra 2 or a solid B in Algebra 2 honors.

The computer science classes will be taught by Potorski, who has been teaching math for 20 years. Potorski went through training over the summer to learn the curriculum and how to create a mobile application, but the subject is still new to him too.

“I’m going to learn along with the students,” he said. “I’m excited to teach it.”

For his training, Potorski said he created a quiz application where the user could select from three topics and answer multiple-choice questions based on the chosen topic.

So far, six students have signed up for the advanced placement course. Those students will have the opportunity to pair up into teams or work by themselves to create an application.

Potorski said he wants students to create an application that is socially useful, such as a program that teaches someone how to learn the alphabet or basic math skills.

Applications for drawing use trigonometry, requiring knowledge of the main functions sine, cosine and tangent, Potorski said.

“I really wanted to challenge myself,” Potorski said. “Challenge my teaching and also offer some I thought was beneficial to our students.”

In addition to the new computer science programs, the high school will implement a credit recovery program that will allow students a chance to improve their grade from a class they failed.

But instead of retaking the entire class, teachers will identify areas and subjects the student struggled with and allow them to focus specifically on those areas.  

For example, if a student received a grade on an essay which significantly affected the student’s overall grade, the student can just rewrite the essay, according to Smidy.

Norris Elementary

Kindergarten through second grade teachers have gone through training to teach a literacy phonics program through Wilson Language Training, which Principal Aliza Pluta said gives teachers a clear and consistent tool to teach students reading skills.

Over the summer, parents and volunteers helped to install a new play structure for younger students. The structure allows a safe environment for kids to play on.

Safe Routes to School, a national initiative to improve safety for those walking and biking, will teach each grade level about bike safety. Pluta said there are about 15 students who ride their bikes to school.

The school also has a new bike rack that spells out “Norris Tigers.” It was donated by the 2017 sixth grade class and replaces an old, rusty rack, Pluta said.

The school’s behavioral management team has come up with posters to remind kids to be respectful, responsible and safe. This year, Pluta said the posters will be posted around the school with different expectations for students in each area. In the bathroom, for example, posters will remind students to flush the toilet and wash their hands.

Westhampton Elementary

Teachers at Westhampton Elementary will use Discovery Education as a supplemental tool for teaching science. The program features e-book reading passages with audio support, virtual labs and interactive videos.

Principal Deane Bates said teachers will still go by the state’s framework for teaching science, but will be able to use the program to find material and develop units. Students will also be able to access the program on school computers.

Bates said the school will also continue with a social-emotional program implemented last year. Incredible Flexible You, a program through the organization Social Thinking, teaches students how to understand their feelings and communicate with each other. 

Bates said students will also learn about reading body language and how to problem solve when they are feeling upset.

Caitlin Ashworth can be reached at cashworth@gazettenet.com.